The goggles Kyle Kuzma wore to protect his right eye abrasion while taking extra shots after Lakers practice Thursday will become part of his gear starting with Friday night’s game in Oklahoma City.
He sustained the injury during Tuesday night’s victory over the Thunder when Oklahoma City’s Darius Bazley inadvertently struck Kuzma in his eye with a fingernail and an elbow, causing the Lakers forward to lose some of his sight.
Kuzma was held out during the second half of the game at Staples Center, but he has vowed to play in the rematch in Oklahoma City. He’ll just have to wear the goggles, channeling his inner James Worthy, who famously wore goggles during his Hall-of-Fame career with the Lakers.
“Doing better, but yesterday [my eye] was completely shut,” Kuzma said after practice. “Now it’s open, so I can see a little bit better. Still blurry. I went to the doctor, had like four, five scratches in the eye. It’s all right though.”
The Lakers’ medical staff cleared Kuzma to play and he tried to persuade coach Frank Vogel to put him back in the game Thursday. Vogel declined.
But, Kuzma said, he doesn’t plan on missing any more time.
“No, no time, just gotta wear goggles, be protective,” he said. “Don’t want to feel that feeling again because it really hurts. So I’m James Worthy now.”
Kuzma was told Worthy earned the nickname “Big Game James” because of his playoff exploits while wearing the goggles.
“Big Game Kuz. I like how that sounds,” said a smiling Kuzma.
It was a scary moment for Kuzma because of the pain. His eye was still red two days later when he talked to the media.
“It hurt to open it. The light was hurting it,” he said. “It was kind of like super, like, blurry. Couldn’t really see nothing. Even yesterday, I really couldn’t see much until nighttime.
“I mean at night, I did have a little headache, I was just like tired, I think that’s what it was. … Even now, it’s still blurry. It’s kind of scary, so wearing [the goggles] for now, for sure.”
Bracing for adversity
Though the Lakers have the best record in the NBA at 12-2 and all has been smooth, they keep reminding each other to brace for whatever storm that might be ahead.
Vogel talked to his team on Thursday about the adversity the Lakers are sure to face. LeBron James addressed that subject before the season began.
As a group, the Lakers said they could face some issues on this four-game trip that takes them to Oklahoma City, Memphis, San Antonio and New Orleans.
“That was a lot of LeBron in our first team meeting, and then coach as well said something today about it,” Anthony Davis said. “We’re not gonna stay hot like this forever, so it’s gonna be — whether it’s this road trip or later on in the season or whatever, something’s gonna happen and some adversity’s gonna hit where we might lose two or three in a row and it’s not a time to panic.
“He tells us all the time, coach tells us all the time, stay even-keeled. We’re not gonna get too high on wins or too low on losses. Stay even-keeled and just try to work through it.”
The Lakers said guard Avery Bradley, out because of a hairline fracture in his right leg, will be re-evaluated on Nov. 29 after they return from the four-game trip. Bradley will travel with the Lakers. Guard Alex Caruso has a strained right calf and is listed as questionable for the Thunder game. Vogel said Caruso was held out of the “contact” part of practice.
AT OKLAHOMA CITY
When: 5 p.m., Friday.
On the air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet; Radio: 710, 1330.
Update: The two teams will meet for the second time in four days. Though the Thunder is 5-9 overall, Oklahoma City does have a 5-3 record at home. Second-year guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the Thunder in scoring (19.4) and fellow former Clippers teammate Danilo Gallinari is second (19.1).